After a lovely day of sailing on the Chesapeake Bay yesterday, we were heading back across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (in one of Advance Car Rental's 2013 Dodge Grand Caravans) when smoke started blowing from the top of the bridge. Not a good sign. The cars in front of us were rushing to get across (they must have had previous experience with bridge closing delays). Some cautious drivers pulled over before entering the bridge. They got out of their cars, pointed to the smoke and chatted with each other. We were about 10 cars away from the fire when blaring sirens came breezing past us in the far left lane. First the fire truck. Then the police. Then another fire truck. Then more police. Traffic stopped. The last little BMW zoomed on its way before the police blocked the rest of us from continuing. We were 5 cars away. We waited. The bridge vibrated every time another fire truck passed. We continued to wait. The sailboats and motor yachts gathered on the waters below, enjoying a different vantage point of the fire. The Carnival Pride cruise ship slowed as she approached the bridge. (The cruise line must have protocols in place against sailing under flaming bridges.) The police walked down the center lane motioning to turn around. Yes, one by one, cars began to do a u-turn on the bridge and drive back the way we had come. The police left the large trucks and buses alone. (The Dodge Grand Caravan maneuvered the u-turn with no problems.) Traffic lined both sides of Rt. 50, trying to avoid the long back up which must have stretched for miles. We hung out at Hemmingways, sitting on the patio with everyone else, watching the smoking bridge. Finally, hours later, they re-opened the bridge and we were good to go.
So I think about those brave cars who saw the smoke, calculated the inevitable massive delay, and decided to keep driving as quickly as they could through the smoke to the other side. Was it better to take your chances and drive over a smoking bridge, or was it better to be cautious, pull to the side and encounter a 3 hour delay? Risk taker or conservative? Smart or foolish? Safe or reckless? What would you do?